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Competency Based Interview Preparation Guide

Natalie Raeside


Contents Section 1 Key things to remember during a Competency Based Interview………………………………………………..1

Section 2 Competency Descriptions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

Communication Skills……………………………………………………… 3 Influencing Skills……………………………………………………………..5 Teamwork……………………………………………………………………….. 7 Building Relationships……………………………………………………..9 Problem Solving and Decision Making…………………………….10 Understanding Problems………………………………………………….13 Planning and Organising (Strategic Planning)………………..14 Drive for Results……………………………………………………………… 16 Customer Service……………………………………………………………. 18 Leadership………………………………………………………………………..20 Quality, Continuous Improvement and Control………………22 Developing and Coaching Others…………………………………….23 Business and Organisational Awareness………………………… 25 Conflict Management………………………………………………………. 26 Negative Competency Based Questions………………………….28

Section 3 The Interviewers Probing Questions…………………………………….. 30 Interview Assessment…………………………………………………………….30 Assessing Competency Based Interview……….……………………… 31 Example of Interviewers Notes…………………………………………….. 33

Section 4 Standard Interview Questions and how to answer them………35 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………… 40

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Section 1 The Key things to remember during a Competency Based Interview

Competency Based Interview questions (Behavioural or Structured interview questions as they are sometimes known) are very specific in terms of their structure. They require you to give an example which will demonstrate a particular competency or skill.

Answering Competency Based Questions Using the right example along with the right key words is vital and the way you structure your answer is essential to passing a Competency Based Interview. So many candidates lose out on the job offer by giving poorly constructed answers to Competency Based Questions with weak examples. This is generally down to lack of preparation. The key things to remember during a Competency Based Interview. Be Specific - Your answers should be specific examples that include evidence of that particular competency. Do not talk generally about situations that you find yourself in on a daily basis. Talk about one situation and use one example.

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Do not use WE – If you talk to the interviewer about what we did and how we achieved a result you are running the risk of failing because of lack of evidence. What did you do in the situation? How did you make sure that results were achieved?

STAR

When answering Competency Based Interview questions, using the STAR acronym may help you to structure your examples.

Situation Task Action Result Make sure that you set the scene for the interviewer by explaining the situation and the task that you had to achieve, how you went about achieving it and finally what was the result.

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Section 2 In order to prepare for your interview you should prepare 2 or 3 examples for each of the following competencies. Your examples should be specific. General examples about everyday occurrences will not gain marks.

Communication Skills When conducting an interview, the interviewer will tend to assess communication skills throughout the interview process. Obvious communication skills include positive body language, good eye contact, good listening skills, structuring your examples and answers well and using the appropriate amount of technical language. You may be asked for specific examples of how you have communicated with others.

Examples of questions: Give me an example of a time where you had to deliver a communication to your team. Tell me about a situation where it was important to communicate effectively. Give me an example of when you encouraged effective communication in the work place.


When preparing your examples and evidence for Communication questions, make sure you think about and include the following:

The key to answering these types of questions is to make sure that you explain to the interviewer what form of communication is used in the situation and why.

How did you know that this was the best form of communication?

Once you have explained the type of communication that you used in the given situation, explain how you tested it.

How did you know that all involved understood? Only when you have made sure that everyone understood can it be deemed a suitable form of communication.

For something to be communicated effectively the information should be accurate. You should be receptive and open to the views of others. Always be open to questions and explain if others do not understand.

If the communication is of a sensitive or negative nature, the above is especially important. Make sure that you explain to the interviewer exactly how you ensured that the communication was accurate and understood.

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Influencing Skills Influencing is about being able to move forward in a situation without pushing or forcing others to do something they do not want to do. During influencing based questions, the interviewer will be looking for evidence of your ability to influence others and persuade them to see your way of thinking. Examples of questions:

Give me an example of a time when you had to persuade a customer around to your way of thinking. Tell me about a time when you had to change someone’s view significantly. Give me an example of when you persuaded a colleague to do something they disagreed with. How do you build up influential relationships? Give me an example of when you used an influential relationship to help you achieve in the work place. Can you give an example of a time when you have sold an idea, concept or product by identifying a particular need, issue or concern in the mind of the person you are selling to?

When answering any type of influencing or persuasion question, remember to use examples that have a positive result so, in other words, make sure that you use an example whereby you have influenced a situation successfully.

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Your examples should include evidence of all the persuasive techniques that you have used. When preparing your examples and evidence for Influencing questions, make sure you think about and include the following:

If you are trying to persuade or influence others you must present clear, concise evidence and communicate at the appropriate level to get your message across.

If influencing alone is not successful, maybe using a 3rd party to gather momentum may be more successful. An example of this is asking a colleague or a Team Manager to help you.

Building relationships and networks may help. You could use the relationships and networks to help you to influence a situation.

Show empathy and try to understand the other person’s point of view.

Think about your audience and flex the style of communication in order to influence.

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Teamwork

You may be asked about how you have worked as part of a team. For roles that involve people management, you are more likely to be asked about how you have led a team of people or how you managed to achieve success through the actions of a team.

Employers are looking for candidates who can recognise that in a lot of circumstances, working with other people will get results. Teamwork requires an understanding of the personalities and skills within a team, the dynamics of a team and how this understanding leads to results. Examples of questions: Tell me about the most successful team you have ever been a part of and why. Tell me about a time when you achieved a successful result through the actions of a team. Give me an example of a time when you experienced conflict within a team. Give me an example of a time when you have made a team decision that others have not liked.

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When preparing your examples and evidence for Teamwork questions, make sure you think about and include the following:

Candidates need to demonstrate that they have identified a variety of skills and experience amongst team members.

Think about examples where you worked in a team with 3 or more people. That way you can emphasise the wide range of skills that you had at your disposal.

Focus on the culture that was created during the task. How did you build relationships with each other? Did you give each other constructive feedback? How did you encourage collaboration?

A good team player will play an active role within the team and contribute an appropriate amount towards its success.

Talk to the interviewer about any difficult times within the team. How have you taken ownership to ensure delivery?

If you have had to make decisions that others have not liked, how have you influenced them to your way of thinking. A good team player shows evidence of give and take.

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Building Relationships Relationship building is about building effective working relationships and a network of contacts both internally and externally to the business. Examples of Questions: Describe a situation in which you developed an effective win/win relationship with a stakeholder or client. How did you go about building the relationship? Tell me about a time when you had to open up to a colleague to help them understand your point of view. Describe a situation when you had to listen to a customer to understand their point of view. Tell me about a time when you relied on a contact in your network to help you with a work-related task or problem. When preparing your examples and evidence for Relationship-Building questions, make sure you think about and include the following: Remember to discuss one example and be specific, it is easy to talk about a number of contacts that you have built relationships with. When discussing how you build relationships, talk about how you build and maintain relationships. How do you build a trust and an open relationship to enable you to open up and discuss any difficult issues within the work place?

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How do you make sure that you understand others point of view? Listening skills are essential to building up good relationships with stakeholders. The ability to be flexible to change is essential to building up good relationships with stakeholders. Show evidence of an understanding of the thoughts, feelings and perspectives of others. Communication is the key to building relationships. If you are faced with any type of question around conflict or confrontation in the work place, take time to think about how you have built relationships with the people or colleagues that are involved. If you have good relationships, difficult times are made easier.

Problem Solving and Decision Making

There are a number of different types of questions you may be asked around Problem Solving and Decision Making.

Examples of questions: Tell me about the last decision that you made which required thought and analysis. Give me an example of a problem that you were faced with where there was more than one solution.

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Tell me about a time when you had to make a quick decision. Give me an example of a problem that you had where there was no obvious solution. Tell me about a difficult decision that you recently made. Give me an example of a time when you have made a good/bad decision.

When preparing your examples and evidence for Problem Solving and Decision Making questions, make sure you think about and include the following:

Remember to talk to the interviewer about the situation you were involved in and set the scene first. So in other words, explain the problem and the situation surrounding the problem. Then talk about your solutions. When you are questioned about problem solving and decision making, the interviewer needs to understand whether you have considered all solutions that are available to you. For example, when stuck with a problem where you could go down roads A, B, or C, what are the benefits of going down road A? Would the problem be solved more quickly if you go down road B? You should be showing the interviewer that you weighed up all the options before making your decision.

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Example See below an example of a candidate’s response to the question: Give me an example of a time when you have made a good decision.

During my work as a Customer Service Agent, it was my responsibility to ensure that all the computer systems were working correctly and tackle any problems that colleagues had. The situation arose one day whereby all systems went down due to a power failure. The staff were left without the information they needed in order to do their job. Customers were inevitably complaining and colleagues were getting very irate that they could not do their job properly. I had to make a decision about how to handle the situation. One solution to the problem was to move all staff and customers to another building where the systems were up and running. This would solve the problem however would mean a lot of upheaval for all concerned. The power was being worked on and could be back on within the next hour. Another solution was to take all customer details, names, phone numbers etc and ask the staff to tell the customers that we would call them as soon as the systems were back up. The problem with this solution was that I was short staffed as it was and this would only create backlog.

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In the end, I decided to go with the building move option. After weighing up all of my options in this situation it seemed like the right thing to do. Although it would mean upheaval, I would avoid the obvious backlog that the second solution would provide. It was a good decision as the power was down for the whole day and the building move only took 30 minutes.

In this example, the candidate has set the scene, explained the problem, talked about the options available and why they made the decision to move buildings. The example is clear, well structured and has answered the question that was asked.

Understanding Problems and Issues

This competency is about how you go about understanding issues and problems. This competency exists to encourage Managers to talk about having a deeper understanding of problems and therefore try and avoid them in the future.

Examples of questions:

Tell me about a situation where you had to analyse a problem in order to understand it.

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Tell me about a time when you improved the team understanding of a problem. When answering these types of question think about a problem and all of the issues surrounding that problem. This competency is about linking all of the issues together to get a deeper understanding of the problem. When preparing your examples and evidence for Understanding Issues questions, make sure you think about and include the following: The interviewer may not be looking for a solution to the problem, rather how you went about understanding the problem.

All of the small issues that have created a problem may be solved to avoid the problem reoccurring.

How did you go about understanding this problem?

If other colleagues are involved, how did you communicate to them your findings? How did you make sure that the problem did not happen again?

Planning and Organising (Strategic Planning)

When approaching Planning and Organising questions, it is important to demonstrate your work in a structured and methodical way.

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Examples of questions: Give me an example of a time when you had to plan a project or a large piece of work. Tell me about when you had to plan ahead in order to achieve timely results. In your current role, how do you prioritise your time and your activities? Give me an example of when it has been particularly difficult to do this. Give me an example of when plans that you had been working on changed at the last minute. Have you ever made a mistake at work? How did you organise yourself to ensure it did not happen again? When preparing your examples and evidence for Planning and Organising questions, make sure you think about and include the following: Start at the beginning. Tell the interviewer what initial plans you made and set the scene.

Did those plans fit into place?

Did you have to review your plans along the way?

What unforeseen circumstances did you come across which resulted in your plans changing?

Planning is about trying to pre-empt problems along the way.

If you fail to pre-empt problems, how do you plan in the future to avoid going off track?

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Drive for Results

Most organisations during an interview will focus on how you achieve results.

Examples of questions: Give me an example of a time when you exceeded a target.

Give me an example of when you were responsible for achieving results through a team.

Give me an example of when you overcame obstacles to achieve a target.

When preparing your examples and evidence for Drive for Results questions, make sure you think about and include the following:

SMART Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time bound

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The objective which you discuss with the interviewer should be specific; you should know exactly what you are aiming for.

Measurable objectives are the specific measures we use to determine whether or not we are successful in achieving the goal.

You should be confident from the start that your goal is achievable

If your goal is unrealistic, in most cases you will not achieve it.

Talk to the interviewer about the timescales you put in place to achieve your goal. Did these timescales change? If they changed, why did they change?

When answering objective based questions, you should demonstrate examples of setting and working towards targets either as an individual or through a team.

Use examples of when you were set a challenging target, how you planned to achieve the target and the actions that you took to ensure success.

Talk to the interviewer about any stretching targets that you set for yourself, what threats stood in the way of delivery and how you got overcame the threats?

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Customer Service

Customer Service is an extremely broad subject. It is possible to be asked any number of questions around how you deal with customers.

The best way to prepare for customer service questions is to try to think about the role you are being interviewed for, at what point would you come into contact with customers? Concentrate on everyday situations. Remember that customers are not only the people buying the product or service. You could have any number of internal customers that you have to deal with in everyday work. How do you recognise internal customers? For example if you were interviewing for the role of a flight dispatcher and the interviewer asked you the following question: Give me an example of a time when you had to put internal customer needs before external customer needs. In this situation we would need to identify the difference between the internal and external customers.

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The external customers to a flight dispatcher would be the passengers flying on the plane.

The internal customers would be the pilot and the cabin crew.

As a flight dispatcher, you are providing the flight crew with a service to ensure they depart in a timely, safe manner.

In preparation for customer based questions and to identify your internal customers, think to yourself: If I were to stop doing my job for two weeks, who would complain?

If my department stopped operating, who would be inconvenienced?

What departments and employees receive or use the work I produce, to do their jobs?

Other examples of Customer Services questions: Give me an example of a time when you have improved customer service. Describe the most rewarding experience you had when dealing with a customer. Tell me about an unreasonable request that you had from a customer.

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Leadership

An interviewer will look for a number of skills and experience from a candidate when questioning around Leadership.

Examples of questions: Think of examples of when you had to manage a team through a period of change. How did you avoid disruption? Tell me about a time when you encountered resistance to changes that you needed to make within the team.

Tell me about a situation in which you were faced where you had to achieve results through the actions of a team. There is a lot to think about when managing and leading a team. Depending on the type of role you are applying for will depend on the level of questioning you will receive during the interview.

When preparing your examples and evidence for Leadership questions, make sure you think about and include the following:

A leader will gain experience in coaching, motivating and having a natural leadership style.

A leader should be able to manage change.

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You may be questioned around how you adapted your leadership style to cater for different needs within the team.

Questions may also touch upon how you inspired and guided individuals to improve their own development.

When assessing leadership skills, interviewers often concentrate on your strategic thinking and how you get things done through other people.

Leaders have to delegate effectively, it may be impossible to get results without the contribution of team members.

You may be questioned around your delegation skills and how you delegate to the advantage of the team members rather than using it as a way of getting rid of tasks. Not only should you be demonstrating effective delegation but you should also be showing an understanding of when delegation is, and is not, effective.

Reward and recognition is important within leadership. You could be asked for examples of how you recognised and rewarded staff.

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Quality, Continuous Improvement and Control Quality, Continuous Improvement and Control, or Kaizen as it is sometimes known, is a process whereby an organisation analyses its systems, processes and how it gets things done.

Examples of questions:

How do you ensure quality when delivering a service to your customers?

What strategies have you embedded to ensure continuous improvement?

Give me an example of a time when you could have done something better?

When preparing your examples and evidence for Continuous Improvement questions, make sure you think about and include the following: Continuous Improvement is not as complicated as it may seem. It can be something as simple as improving the way you approach customers or colleagues. Some organisations encourage staff to constantly think about how they can improve systems and processes within the work environment.

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The organisation that you want to work for may well pride itself on constantly improving and therefore you are likely to be faced with questions that are based around this. You should think about how you have improved the ways things are done in the past. If you are questioned around Continuous Improvement and cannot think of examples which demonstrate changing processes and systems, try and think about times where you improved team moral or improved relationships with internal or external customers.

Developing and Coaching Others You do not have to be a line manager to have the ability to coach and develop others. Developing other people may also mean that you are training new members of staff to do the job or working alongside a colleague who does not have as much experience as you.

Examples of questions: Tell me about a situation where you had to coach an individual or a group of individuals.

Give me an example of when you had to develop an individual who had a lack of motivation.

Give me an example of when you empowered others through delegation.

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Describe a time when you provided feedback to someone about their performance.

When preparing your examples and evidence for Developing and Coaching Others questions, make sure you think about and include the following:

Think about the job you have applied for. Ask yourself, will this job require me to get things done through other people?

If you are required to achieve results through the work of other people then coaching and developing those people is a crucial part to its success.

Think about examples of when you have delivered constructive feedback in the past to someone. How do you make sure that your feedback is constructive?

How do you motivate people around you?

Think about the bigger picture. If you have had to delegate in the past, how have you encouraged others to learn new things through delegation?

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Business and Organisational Awareness

Having good business awareness means that a candidate understands the business in which they work and all the relationships surrounding that business.

You may be asked about situations that you have been in where you had to defuse conflict with someone. Examples of questions: What do you know about this organisation?

Can you tell me what the structure of this organisation is?

Can you tell me what our profits were last year?

How do you keep ahead of internal and external business issues?

How do you keep up-to-date with our constantly changing business? When preparing your examples and evidence for Business and Organisational Awareness questions, make sure you think about and include the following:

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Preparation to any of the above questions is essential. The answers to some of these questions are likely to be found on the organisation’s website. Reading a business newspaper regularly may help you understand any effects on the organisation. Candidates should have a good understanding of the organisational structure as well as the core values and priorities of the business. Managers may be expected to recognise and address the underlying strengths and weakness of the organisation and anticipate the impacts of social, political and economic events.

Conflict Management You may be asked about situations that you have been in where you had to defuse conflict with someone.

Examples of questions: Tell me about a difficult customer or a customer complaint that you have dealt with.

Give me an example of a time when you had to resolve conflict within your team.

Describe when you have been faced with conflict between team members.

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Tell me about a sensitive situation that you were faced with, where a team member raised conflict with you.

When preparing your examples and evidence for Conflict Management questions, make sure you think about and include the following:

Try and avoid placing blame on others or demonstrating unconstructive feedback. The interviewer will be looking at how you dealt with the conflict rather than whose fault it was.

Talk to the interviewer about what process you went through to identify the conflict.

Show evidence of taking into consideration the needs, emotions and perspectives of those involved.

Show evidence of how you have analysed and understood the conflict and then used that understanding to resolve the problem in a constructive and collaborative way.

When discussing conflict it is important to use examples that have a positive outcome and where the conflict has been diffused.

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Negative Competency Based Questioning It is likely that you will come across competency based questions that have a negative focus.

Examples of questions:

Describe a time when you failed to influence a situation appropriately.

Tell me about a situation you were faced with where you failed to create a continuous improvement culture.

Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a colleague about something.

Describe a situation where your team has lacked two way communications.

Tell me about a team you worked in that has not worked collaboratively.

Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.

Give me an example of a time when you have made a team decision that others have not liked.

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Try and focus on the fact that the situation you were faced with was negative. What the interviewer will be looking for is for some examples of how you resolved the situation and turned it into a positive.

It is actually a lot easier to come up with examples for negative questions because they are much more likely to be complex.

These questions are designed to enable the candidate to tell the interviewer about a situation they have been faced with where they have initially failed to do something, and then taken action to turn that situation around into a positive.

Do not fall into the trap of telling the interviewer about a negative situation that got worse. Remember you are there to sell yourself.

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Section 3 The Interviewers Probing Questions If the interviewers feel that there are areas that you have failed to address, they may help you along by probing appropriately. For example, in answering the question “Describe an example of a time when you had to deal with pressure”, if you focused on how you dealt with the practical angle of the problem but you forgot to discuss how you managed your stress during and after the event, the interviewers may prompt you with a further question such as “How did you handle the stress at the time?”. This would give you an opportunity to present a full picture of your behaviour. Don’t be put off if the interviewer interrupts your example to ask you some probing questions, they are trying to help you by encouraging you to discuss all the relevant points.

Interview Assessment In a properly conducted interview, the interviewer should fill in an assessment form for each candidate. A typical assessment form sets out the various areas that need to be assessed and provides a means of marking or grading the interviewees. The interviewer will write down all or the majority of what you say during the interview. After the interview, the interviewer will then assess your responses according to the benchmark that has been set.

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Assessing Competency Based Interview Before the interview, the interviewers will have determined which type of answers would score positive points and which types of answers would count against the candidates by using the competency based framework which is used throughout the organisation. The competency based framework includes each competency and a list of indicators for each competency. For example, for the competency ‘Communicating’ and the question ‘Give me an example of a time where you had to deliver a communication to your team’ The indicators may be as follows:

Competency

Positive Indicators

Negative Indicators

Positive Indicators

Communicating

Negative Indicators

·

Presents clear and concise evidence

·

Verbose, lacks clarity when communicating

·

Chooses the most appropriate form of communication for each situation

·

Fails to respond to lack of understanding

·

Shows poor listening skills

· ·

·

Responds effectively to questions Open to questions and explains if others do not understand Demonstrates good listening skills

Example of Competency Framework - Indicator Chart

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Marks are then allocated depending on the extent to which the candidate's answer matches those negative and positive indicators. Here is an example of a ratings chart for the indicator chart on the previous page:

Rating

Evidence Examples at interviews exceeds competency requirement

5. Outstanding

Examples at interview meets and sometimes exceeds competency requirement

4. Good

Examples meet competency requirement

3. Acceptable

Examples show some evidence of competency but further development is needed

2. Marginal

1. Unacceptable

Examples show no evidence of competency

Overall Rating Example of Ratings Chart

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In the attachment below you will find an example of interviewer’s notes from a Competency Based Interview.

Example of Interviewers Notes Competency - Building Relationships Description: Develops relationships with customers, inspires confidence in the service Question Describe a situation in which you have developed an effective win/win relationship with a stakeholder or client. How did you go about building the relationship?

Positive Indicators

Candidates Evidence

Negative Indicators

·

Builds and maintains effective relationships

·

Shows the ability to be flexible to change

·

Develops a rapport easily

·

Understands the needs and priorities of customers

·

Understands the thoughts and feelings of others

During my work at a major · supermarket, it was my job to work with suppliers. A situation arose with a major client. There · were tensions when trying to agree a price for a dairy product. We had just started using the · supplier so it was important to build up a relationship. To do this, I went to see the client face to face. I thought that it would improve communication. I built up a rapport by contacting them on a daily basis after that, speaking to the same person at all times so I would not loose impact. The supplier was new, they didn’t have experience. I talked them through the process that we go through with other suppliers. We eventually agreed on a price and the relationship is still strong

Requires more flexibility when dealing with customers Unable to develop rapport with customers and colleagues Does not understand situations from others point of view

.

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Rating 5. Outstanding

Evidence Examples at interviews exceeds competency requirement Examples at interview meets and sometimes exceeds competency requirement

4. Good

3. Acceptable

2. Marginal

1. Unacceptable

Overall Rating

Examples meet competency requirement Examples show some evidence of competency but further development is needed Examples show no evidence of competency The candidate has demonstrated all positive indicators during his example - he has scored 5 – outstanding on this particular competency

Another Example of a Ratings Chart

You will see in this example that the candidate has given evidence of all positive indicators and has therefore scored a 5 - outstanding for that competency. Each competency will be scored in the same way. The overall outcome of the interview will be determined by the amount of positive indicators demonstrated throughout the interview.

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Section 4 Standard Interview Questions and how to answer them Below is a list of standard interview questions which you may be faced with during your interview: Talk me through your CV. Tell me about yourself. What do you know about this organisation? How much do you know about the role? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Why do you want to leave your current job? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What are your long term career aspirations? Can you explain this gap in your employment history? How would others describe you? What motivates you? What is your greatest achievement? Why should I offer you this job? Why do you want this job?

Below are a few examples and a brief summary of what the interviewer may be looking for in your answers:

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Tell me about yourself

When answering this type of question, remember to focus on your CV and career history rather than your personal circumstances. The interviewer wants to know about the jobs you have had, your career aspirations and your education. It may be possible to take a copy of your CV into the interview with you to refer to it. You must ensure that you have permission to so this.

What do you know about this organisation?

Before you go to any job interview, it is essential to do your research on the organisation in which you want to work.

You can actually tell a lot about an employer from the employment pages of their website. You can refer to examples of the core values of the organisation, their mission statement or the share price. You can look at annual reports, media releases and product and service information.

You can keep up to date with company news by using social networking sites. For example, by following a company on Twitter, you can log on and review their Tweets on the morning of the interview, that way you have some common ground and are up to date with their news. The information that you gather gives you an idea of whether the organisation is somewhere you would like to work, it will also show the interviewer that you are interested in the company.

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What do you know about the role? You can find out a great deal about the job you have applied for before you go to the interview. Once you have been invited for an interview, ask the potential employer or the recruitment agency that you are working with whether you can have a copy of the job description. The job description defines the role and accountability of the role. A typical job description will have a summary of the role, a list of objectives that the person undertaking the job should be meeting and a list of skills they should possess. If the job description is not available to view you may find the same information on the company website. (Further details on the job description can be found in lesson 4)

What are your strengths? This is not a trick question. It is another opportunity for you to sell yourself. Rather than using overused statements when answering this question (‘I am a good team player’ ‘I am motivated’ ‘I am a perfectionist’) try and say something compelling and realistic, something that will give a good indication of your real character. When preparing for your answer to this question, think very carefully about your key strengths: Are you practical? Are you resourceful? Do you keep calm under pressure? Whatever strengths you come up with, you will need some evidence to back up your statement. If your key strength is that you are practical, think of an example of a time when you have really demonstrated this and jot it down.

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What are your weaknesses?

Showing your weaknesses during an interview is not a prospect that anyone would enjoy. Any experienced interviewer probably would not ask this question, simply because realistically, they are not going to gain any sort of sincere evidence from the candidate. No candidate is going to sit in an interview and tell the interviewer all the things that they need to improve on. It is a good idea to prepare anyway, in case it comes up. Think of an example of something that you need to develop within your skills set. Choose the skill that you need to do some training on, for example: ‘I am a good team player, however I need to improve on the way I delegate jobs as I have not had much experience of this to date’ Questions about your Education and Qualifications The main details about your education and qualifications should be contained in your CV or Application Form. However, the interviewer may wish to get a clearer picture, particularly in the case of school or college leavers who have little work experience. So it is advisable to anticipate the questions that may be asked and prepare for them:

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The interviewer may want to know what subjects you preferred and why. If you have a degree, the interviewer may want to know why you opted for certain subjects. You may have recently completed an extended project or thesis. Be able to talk clearly and in a few words, tell them about what you have done. The interview may ask what your development areas were at school or college. Talk to the interviewer about those development areas and ensure you mention the steps you put in place to improve on these areas. Questions about your work experience This is one of the areas in which the interviewer is likely to be most interested. As has been seen in Lesson 1 your CV or application form should give a broad outline of your work history. The interviewer may want to know in greater detail, the duties and responsibilities you have had in your current or previous jobs and what you enjoy / dislike about those responsibilities. They may also ask you why you want to leave your current job. Of course, this does not apply to school and college leavers. However, if you are a student, and have referred to part-time jobs in your application, you may be asked about what you did, whether you enjoyed the work, and so on. The questions will not be so detailed, but you should be ready for them all the same.

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Conclusion The focus of this guide is Competency Based Interviews. It also gives job seekers advice on more general or standard questions that you may be asked during an interview. Remember however that during the interview, there are other types of interview questions that you may also face:

Situational Interviews Situational interviews are not as common as competency based questions, although some organisations do use them. Situational interview questions give potential employers an insight into your ability to do the job. This technique involves questions based on real life challenging situations that you may find yourself in the work place and how you would handle those situations. These types of questions are designed to draw out more of your analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as how you handle problems with short notice and minimal preparation. Candidate Solutions can give you further advice on how to deal with situational interview questions, just contact

natalie@candidatesolutions.co.uk

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One-to-One Coaching Service If you think you need that little extra support, Candidate Solutions offer a one-to-one coaching service. The package is personalised to your individual needs, tailored to the type of job you are applying for and your prior experience. The one-to-one service costs just ÂŁ29.99 and includes: Free initial telephone consultation Mock up telephone Competency Based Interview Feedback from mock interview Advice and tips for future interview preparation To take advantage of this service, visit

www.candidatesolutions.co.uk Employers / Schools Candidate Solutions offer a range of services to many different types of organisations including: Employers Employment Services Schools Colleges Recruitment Agencies Whether you want to prepare your staff for interviews, incorporate interview workshops into your job seeker training or require help with writing an interview training guide, we can customise a package to suit your needs. To take advantage of this service, visit

www.candidatesolutions.co.uk 41 Š Natalie Raeside - Oct 12


Natalie Raeside has spent the last 10 years of her career working for global organisations. During this time, she has sourced, assessed and recruited for a variety of jobs across many parts of the business.

Qualified in all aspects of competency based assessment, Natalie has gained a number of accreditations from the global leader in talent management, SHL. Natalie created Candidate Solutions in 2011. Whilst some of her time is spent conducting competency based assessment on a freelance basis, the majority of her work is focused on helping other people to feel confident in preparing for interviews and assessments. This book will help you gain the knowledge and expertise you need to in order for you to prepare for your next interview or assessment day.

RRP £18.99 www.candidatesolutions.co.uk Š Natalie Raeside - October 2012

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Competency Based Interview Preparation Guide